Saturday, January 28, 2012

Support S. 1884: School Access to Emergency Epinephrine Act

Recently, my niece Emily made a request on her blog, Food Allergy Thoughts (from Sophie Safe):
Please consider contacting members of this committee:

and asking them to support S. 1884: School Access to Emergency Epinephrine Act. This bill would allow schools to have a supply of epinephrine and administer it to any student believed to be having an anaphylactic reaction. If Ammaria Johnson's school had this policy, she would likely have lived. Let's get this bill passed so there are no more Ammarias.
Last night, I did just that, and I encourage you to do the same.

Why is this bill important to me? I read Emily's blog regularly, and have become more aware of the daily risks faced by children with allergies, such as Emily's daughter. Within the past year, I've read of two students, Ammaria and Katelyn, who died when allergic reactions sent them into anaphylactic shock. In both those cases, as I understand it, the school reacted quickly, and called 911, but no epinephrine was administered.

Someone (maybe it was Emily) once told me that the benefit of an Epipen is that it buys time, critical time, to allow a child to receive care at a hospital. Without it, a child can quickly succumb to the reaction, as happened with Ammaria and Katelyn.

"Quickly" is a relative term. In this blog entry, a parent describes her child's allergic reaction, in which his throat closed within 1-2 minutes. To me, that is frighteningly fast, and doesn't allow time to do much - except administer life-saving epinephrine, via that Epipen.

A bill that encourages schools to stock and use epinephrine seems like a no-brainer to me. If you agree, send a message (or messages) of support for S. 1884.

If you follow Emily's GovTrack link, you'll see a list of the committee members (only four show up on that page; you can use the navigating arrows and buttons to see all members). For each member you want to contact, if you click on their name, it takes you to their site on There, you can click on a link to their official website. On that site, you can find a 'contact' or similar link, which lets you fill out a form to send them your message.

That main first GovTrack link also lists the bills currently in committee, so you can find and read S. 1884.

As I was poking around GovTrack, I looked at the Tips for Communicating with Congress page. It was interesting, and talked about whether or not writing letters even helps, given the volume of communications that members of congress receive. My take-away was that it might help; it at least serves as a polling tool; and, form letters definitely don't help. When you do write, you should be specific, be brief, and explain why this issue is important to you.

Thanks for your support!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Five Things for Friday: Trial Run

 - 1 -

I enjoy reading Heather's blog Women in the Scriptures. She blogs about the scriptures, obviously, but also about her family and life in general. She has a regular "Five Things for Friday" post, and invites other bloggers to follow suit. This is my first attempt to find five things on my mind that are worth sharing. (It's always encouraging when I can find anything on my mind!)

- 2 -

 My friend's baby is due any day now, and I've been working on an elephant for the baby - but perhaps not as diligently as I'd like. Knitting time has been at a premium, and the poor fellow still needs arms and ears and part of a leg. But tonight is knit night for our guild, and I have hopes of adding several limbs to Elijah.

- 3 -

I love knitting Elijah - it's a well-written pattern, and the resulting toy is delightful - but I really want to be knitting this shawl. I started it last July, made only minimal progress, and left it languishing on a shelf. I'm determined to finish it this year, and have committed to work on it at least once a week (leaving the rest of the week for other, more pressing, projects. Like Elijah.).

I worked on it last weekend, quickly knit 10 rows, and asked myself, "WHY have you abandoned this WONDERFUL project?!?" Honestly, I love the feel of the fabric - so soft and with such a nice drape to it. I now have a plan - 13 rows a week - which will allow me to finish the shawl before Christmas. But, I'm betting that I will knit more than that each week, because it really is addictive...

And isn't that a lovely yarn bowl? My sister-in-law Karen gave it to me for Christmas, and I think it is delightful. I love the shape, and the bird design. It's from Julie Knowles Pottery.

- 4 -

I recently read a conversation on Facebook. It began with this quote from Obama's State of the Union address:
We can either settle for a country where a shrinking number of people do really well, while a growing number of Americans barely get by, or we can restore an economy where everyone gets a fair shot, everyone does their fair share and everyone plays by the same set of rules.What’s at stake are not Democratic values or Republican values, but American values. We have to reclaim them.
From there, a series of comments went back and forth, arguing the pros and cons of this position - well, really, it was about whether or not the government should assist those who are barely getting by. One of the comments literally took my breath away:
People who make bad choice [sic] should suffer for them, and part of that suffering will necessarily impact their children. The government cannot replace the family.
This response seems typical of one segment of our country, whose goal is to get ahead, and to take care of their own (which aren't bad goals, really). What concerns me is the that they don't want any of their money helping "those" people, and in fact believe "those" people made their own bed, and should lie in it.

I hope that someday, the prevalent philosophy will instead mirror King Benjamin's, who said (Mosiah 4:16-18):
And also, ye yourselves will succor those that stand in need of your succor; ye will administer of your substance unto him that standeth in need; and ye will not suffer that the beggar putteth up his petition to you in vain, and turn him out to perish.

Perhaps thou shalt say: The man has brought upon himself his misery; therefore I will stay my hand, and will not give unto him of my food, nor impart unto him of my substance that he may not suffer, for his punishments are just—

But I say unto you, O man, whosoever doeth this the same hath great cause to repent; and except he repenteth of that which he hath done he perisheth forever, and hath no interest in the kingdom of God.
I think society cannot avoid its responsibility to care for others, as we try to achieve the Zion society that Moses described (Moses 7:18):
And the Lord called his people Zion, because they were of one heart and one mind, and dwelt in righteousness; and there was no poor among them.
- 5 -

Yesterday, I had my camera on the tripod, to take the knitting pictures shared above. As I finished, I noticed Bonnie sleeping on the couch. I quietly turned the camera towards her and snapped this photo without her stirring. Isn't she a sweet pup? 

'Tis sweet to hear the watch-dog's honest bark
Bay deep-mouthed welcome as we draw near home;
'Tis sweet to know there is an eye will mark
Our coming, and look brighter when we come.
~ A Friendly Welcome, by Lord Byron

Saturday, January 21, 2012

The Art of Racing in the Rain

After Christmas, I was visiting with relatives, and Garth Stein's The Art of Racing in the Rain came up in discussion. My brother and niece had both read it, and had positive reports. When I mentioned that it was on my Goodreads 'to-read' list, my brother found his copy and gave it to me.

The first chapter introduces us to Enzo, the canine narrator. His immediate problem - "lying on the cool tiles of the kitchen floor in a puddle of my own making" - was one I recognized. In the last months of our Homer's life, we often came home and found him in that same situation. I immediately felt a connection and empathy with this dog.

I could only guess at Homer's thoughts, but Enzo! Enzo is a dog who thinks a lot, about many things. He loves auto racing, and watches racing tapes with his Denny. He loves TV, with its movies and documentaries. He is fascinated with opposable thumbs. He has insights and wisdom and opinions and a sense of humor, all of which he shares throughout his story.

I loved Enzo's voice, his designation of Denny's in-laws as the "Evil Twins," and his description of Mike's wife, "who wasn't really a wife but a man who was wife-like." I was amazed to discover that I enjoyed his description of racing, and I was fascinated with all the nuances and subtleties and skill of that sport. And, I loved Enzo's varied ways of getting his message across: "gestures are all that I have."

Most of all, I loved the story he told. Enzo described his life with Denny, and the additions of Eve and Zoe to their family. He went on to share the heartbreaking tragedy they faced, and the struggle that Denny endured. At one point, I thought "I can't finish this book, I can't face any more sadness," but of course I did. Enzo led me through the sadness to the reward.

I hope that if I ever face such challenges, I can endure it with Denny's grace. And, I hope that I will have an Enzo by my side, guiding me through it, and making sure that I never give up.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Snowfall in Kalamazoo

One of my recent goals is to go to bed by 10 pm (my hope is that by meeting this goal, I'll be able to meet some of my other goals, that require getting up earlier...!). So this will be a quick post.

A friend recently shared this quote, from Henry B. Eyring.
When you meet someone, treat them as if they were in serious trouble, and you will be right more than half the time.
I will try to remember this, when I am feeling annoyed with someone, and try to react with kindness instead.

On another note, we finally got snow here in Kalamazoo. Back on Jan 1st & 2nd, 7 or 8 inches fell, but didn't stick around for long. After a warm spell, the weather turned cold again, and we had another storm, starting Thursday evening, and continuing into Friday night. When it was all over, we had 10-12 inches of snow. Happily, I didn't have to drive in the worst of it, so I was able to enjoy watching it fall. Yesterday Bonnie and I had a fine walk, and I took some pictures.

Bonnie doesn't seem to care how deep the snow gets, although she does struggle to make her way sometimes. Apparently the snow traps smells, so she spends a lot of time sticking her head deep into the white stuff.

When she surfaces, she's wearing a good bit of snow
We recently had our house sided. Here are some pictures with the new siding, as well as the new snow.

Viewed from Canterbury & Piccadilly intersection

From Frey's Park - the garage door is still the old color

From Piccadilly - the west end of the house

And here are a few more random snow scenes.

Saturday morning, looking toward the park

Our pine tree

The row of pines on the far side of the park

Highgate Road

Monday, January 2, 2012

Knitting into the New Year

I want to share two recent FO's.

I knit this owl blanket for my newest grand-nephew. It is the Sleepy Owl Blanket, by Lori Emmitt. I made a couple changes to the pattern, which are described on my project page. This is a very satisfying knit - interesting, but not too demanding. The yarn is Dream in Color's Classy, and was lovely to work with.

I finished knitting this rabbit (Ysolda Teague's pattern, Sophie) on New Year's Eve, but I didn't finish the eyes & nose until tonight, so I'm calling this a 2012 project. At first I thought the legs were too long, but now I think they'll be perfect for a little hand to hold onto. I'm not sure yet what I'll do with this one - probably just admire her for a bit!

I'm working on a scarf for Jim. Actually, I already knit this yarn into a scarf once before - but the stitch pattern turned out to be problematic, so I finally frogged the entire thing, and have started again with a tried-and-true pattern (the Corrugator, by Paula Smith).

This yarn is wound and ready to be knit into another Ysolda Teague elephant. The cast on for this is always tricky; I'm planning to tackle it tomorrow evening...!